President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday lamented that despite government’s efforts aimed at ensuring the conduct of credible elections, some malpractices were witnessed in the recent governorship elections in Kogi and Bayelsa states.
He called on Nigerians to support all necessary measures aimed at ensuring free, fair and credible elections in the country, including the use of card readers and permanent voter cards.
A statement by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, quoted the President as saying this while receiving the new members of the Inter-Party Advisory Council Executive Committee at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
“Referring to recent elections in Kogi and Bayelsa states, President Buhari said it was unfortunate that there were still reports of unhelpful electoral attitudes,” the statement read.
Buhari said more work needed to be done to perfect the conduct of elections in the country.
The President told members of IPAC that it was regrettable that the electorate in some parts of the country were deprived of the use of card readers and permanent voter cards during the last general elections despite the enthusiasm that followed their introduction to the Nigerian electoral system.
He also used the occasion of the visit of the IPAC leaders to thank them for their strong support for his candidacy in the build-up to the 2015 presidential election.
He congratulated the new Chairman of IPAC, Malam Bashir Yusuf, who is also the Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Movement.
In his remarks, Yusuf pledged the group’s support for Buhari’s fight against insurgency and corruption in the country.
He also reaffirmed IPAC’s belief in the unity, progress and indivisibility of Nigeria.
But in Yenagoa, hundreds of women and youths from the Yenagoa Local Government Area of Bayelsa State took to the streets on Tuesday, calling for the cancellation of the governorship poll in the area as a result of alleged irregularities during the election and the inconsistencies in the result announced by the Independent National Electoral Commission.
They alleged that the series of official complaints by genuine voters and the All Progressives Congress in the Yenagoa metropolis were ignored by officials of INEC.
They also lamented that the bias of the commission showed in the inconsistencies of the figures announced by the Collation Officer for the council.
The State Youth Leader of the APC, Edison Sorgwe, and a chieftain of the party, Alaowei Opukeme-Jonah, who spoke on behalf of the aggrieved voters, said the result announced by the INEC’s collation officers for the PDP, APC and other political parties were inconsistent with the number of rejected votes and cancelled votes.
The protesters submitted that the election in Yenagoa LGA should be cancelled like that of Southern Ijaw, saying it was also characterised by cases of ballot snatching, irregularities and widespread violence.
They said the election in the LGA recorded skirmishes resulting in more than eight members of the party sustaining injuries.
The protesters said they were also preparing a petition against identified security personnel and staff of INEC involved in corruption during the poll.
Meanwhile, INEC has said it has yet to decide on when it will conduct a supplementary election to determine the winner of the inconclusive Bayelsa State governorship poll.
The commission said a meeting of its officers and political parties would be called to decide when the election would hold.
INEC on Monday cancelled the election in the Southern Ijaw Local Government Area of the state, declaring the governorship poll inconclusive.
While results of elections in the remaining seven local government areas had been announced, the commission cancelled the exercise in the Southern Ijaw LGA due to widespread violence and irregularities.
Director of Voters Education and Publicity of INEC, Mr. Oluwole Osaze, told our correspondent in Abuja on Tuesday that the commission had yet to fix a date for the supplementary election.
Osaze said, “No, we have not decided on when the election in the affected local government will hold.
“We need to have a meeting in the commission and also meet with political parties in the state and other stakeholders before deciding on that.”